Owner David Ford's affinity with the family of American-bred mare Kiss Me Fool continued on Wednesday night when The Kissing Bandit took out the Agriweld Pace (1720m) at Dubbo's big Boxing Night program.
A full brother to Ford's prolific winner Foolish Kiss, the three-year-old son of former champion pacer Courage Under Fire (NZ) led all the way to record his first win at his 13th career start.
Now in the care of Dubbo trainer Mick Pay, The Kissing Bandit started his career with top Bathurst trainer-driver Ashlee Siejka before heading back west.
The move paid immediate dividends as driver David Harris rated the $2.40 favourite perfectly in front after starting well from barrier three.
Harris stacked up the field in the early stages, running quarters of 32.9s and 32.0s and was content to allow his main rival, Rattlen Ranji ($4.70, Kurt Lew), to sit outside him in the death seat.
The tempo picked up in the third quarter, which was covered in 30.6s before the leader sprinted the last 400m in a time of 29.1s, making it hard for any of his rivals to run past him.
On the line The Kissing Bandit had three-and-a-half metres to spare from the Amanda O’Neill-trained Rattlen Ranji with $84 chance Looks To Kill filling third place, a further neck away.
The time for the 1720m journey was 2:13.3 with the mile rate being a leisurely 2:04.7.
Afterwards Pay said he was still learning about the gelding but admitted there were further wins in store.
“I haven’t had him that long but I knew he was good enough to be competitive in that kind of race,” Pay said.
“He had been drawing badly down at Bathurst and was finding it tough so Dave sent him to me and it’s good to get a result straight away.
“Coming from Ashlee I knew he would be fit and well looked after so it’s just been a matter of keeping him ticking along and Dave Harris drove the horse well tonight.”
The Kissing Bandit will now be aimed at some races in the Maitland area but Pay thinks the horse will continue to get better and may still be a season away from performing at his best.
“I trained Foolish Kiss and she didn’t really come good until she was a four-year-old and this fellow is still only three,” Pay said.
“Dave Ford had Foolish Kiss as well and she was a good horse for us and hopefully this horse will continue to improve as he gets older.
“I’ve only got two horses in work at the moment, both for Dave, and we are getting some good results.”